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Child custody and supervised visitation

New Jersey law has a preference for joint child custody when parents do not live together, but some circumstances can make giving one parent sole custody a better option. In cases where one parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or if there are allegations of violence, that parent might be denied custody but granted visitation rights. In these cases, a court order might require supervised visitation, which means a third party must be present when the parent visits the child.

Supervised visitation can happen in the parent's home or at another designated location. The supervisor could be a family member or a social worker. Supervised visitation is designed to allow a parent to maintain contact with their child while protecting the child from possible harm from a parent whose fitness as a parent is questionable.

Supervised visitation may continue indefinitely until a parent requests a change. A parent who is allowed only supervised visits with their child must demonstrate that circumstances have changed in order for a judge to lift the supervision requirement. A change in circumstances could mean that a parent has undergone drug or alcohol rehabilitation or has in some other way changed the circumstance that led to the supervised visitation order.

The parent with custody of the children can also request that a supervised visitation order be changed. Requesting a change in supervised visitation requires going to court to make a formal request.

Shared parenting is generally considered to be the best circumstance for children, which is why states including New Jersey legally lean towards joint custody in most child custody cases. Couples can usually avoid court custody trials if they can agree to a custody arrangement that is in the child's best interest and is fair to both parents.

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